We’ve all had those days, or even weeks when it feels like our kids were sent here to this planet to drive us crazy! Communication is fraught & tempers are frayed.
How I react to my children’s behaviour is a good measuring stick for me, of how good I am in myself.
When I am strong and grounded, I can sail above the tantrums, noise & whinging with positivity and a smile. I know I’m having one of those good days when I feel like I’m channeling earth mother herself, I have lots of love to give, I am an empty vessel ready to give and receive love. I can embrace the beautiful mess, and somehow I find humour in the chaos. Play-dough in my shoes, no problem!, a milkshake thrown at the dashboard of my car as I drive! funny, texta on the walls, hilarious!
Other days, not so good. My patience is thin, the clutter screams at me & the whingeing feels like it’s peeling my skin. Sometimes when little people cry they sound as if they are in so much pain! I start to think about all the suffering in the world, and other sorts of random, horrible things and these are the days I know I have to give, give, give to myself.
Those days when you are struggling, it is hard to not let a demanding child taint your outlook. The tricky part is when things become a constant battle, meal times, bedtimes, getting dressed, our own anxiety about a situation can fuel the problem. They are smart little creatures, they know just by the tone in our voice that we are getting uptight, and they remember the pattern of behaviour-Aaaaah this game again!
A little while ago I noticed my attitude to my oldest daughter had become a little bit sour, I was becoming a nag and no one likes a nag, especially the nag! I was tired of things seeming so hard. I had got to a point where my interactions with her were met with a sinking heart,” O no not another fight”. She could detect the tension in my voice when I asked her to go to bed. She bristled when I asked her to pick up her belongings. It was sad to admit it at the time, but it would have been even sadder if I hadn’t seen it, as a mother and daughter’s relationship can be such a delicate one. What I did do is forgive myself because it was ok, as some things do just wear you down, but it was time for something to change.
So what I did was change myself, I changed my thoughts, I changed my attitude. The following ideas were also good in helping me get my communication with her back to a better place.
The first thing that I know is that a parent’s belief in their child is communicated to them by a whole lot more than just what we say. Children pick up on our actions, body language and the sentiment beneath our words. They know when we are at our wits end, conveniently tune out to our voices, or react to the belief we are projecting onto them.
So the change I have made is, before I approach my daughter especially if it’s to ask her to do something there may be resistance to, I check in with myself, become aware of how I feel about the situation and visualise the ideal scenario.
With practice, I can now do this quite quickly and in the moment. By keeping the outcome you want in the forefront of your mind, it is easier to navigate the situation and steer towards this. When you go in with the belief there is going to be a fight you will get a fight. When you go in believing someone is going to listen to you and be open, they will listen and be open. See it, and feel it in your minds eye, hold onto it fiercely, and you won’t even need to think about the words you need to say it will just come out right. The power of your confidence in them to be tidy, honest or whatever it is, seeps through you to them.
I’ve found this technique helps me connect with my daughter on a level she is open to, and often I will end up talking with her about something she is interested in, then asking her to pick up her clothes as we chat and carry on.
Your belief is very important, but the words you choose are too, just like NLP- Neuro Linguistic Programming- say what you want, not what you don’t want. Children love positive direction. So rather than criticising or stating the negative like ” stop hitting your brother and throwing the ball inside” state the action you want ” why don’t you guys go and play outside”. It works a treat, as when you state the negative that is all they hear- “hit your brother, throw balls inside”. Use it with everything, so rather than complaining about a messy room start with
” Hey lets get your room looking really great!”
Despite how many tactics we have arguments do still erupt, and this final idea helps me break through the lock down if we are butting heads. The truth is, human beings crave to be heard and understood, so the best way to communicate with a child who is defiantly convinced that they are right is to show empathy. Empathy is the golden inroad to dissolve the conflict, and get them to listen to you.
Repeat back to them how they feel even if you don’t agree with it ” I realise it must be frustrating for you when your brother annoys you, and you feel like smashing him over the head with a truck….” make them feel heard, they will then be more open to your suggestion. I often smile to myself when doing this as some the things kids get upset about can be so irrational.
Showing empathy to their struggle is the magic trick to get them to do what you want!
It’s hard to remember to do these things all the time, and I’m guilty of forgetting all that I know in flustered moments, but communicating with my kids is definitely something I want to take the time to analyse and work at, as it feels so good when it all flows right.